The Ulster Council is to table a motion at Congress in Cork next month urging the immediate cessation of the link between the GAA and the Australian Football League.
It was following a strong, articulate plea by Brendan Harvey on behalf of the Tyrone County Board at Saturday’s Ulster Convention in Ballyshannon that delegates voted by an overwhelming 367-6 majority to endorse a similar motion, thus paving the way for the issue to be tabled at Congress.
Harvey’s detailed analysis of what Tyrone feel is the undermining of gaelic games because of the emphasis on the International Rules series clearly struck a chord with delegates and his plea for an end to the series elicited support from many quarters, with former Ulster Council president Micheal Greenan among those speaking in favour of the motion which was seconded by Donal Magee.
Harvey insisted that the International Rules dimension is not to the advantage of the GAA, adding that the cream of this country’s hurlers have so far been denied the opportunity to take their talents onto the global stage.
“I believe that we are in competition with other sports for our players of the future and we simply cannot afford to be continuing with the International Rules against this backdrop,” said Harvey.
Ulster Council Provincial Director Danny Murphy had earlier touched on the International Rules aspect in his annual report and this will now be to the fore when the motion is brought to the floor at Congress.
Nickey Brennan, in his last address to the Ulster Council in his role as GAA President, reminded delegates that an agreement had been made at national level in relation to this year’s series, based in part on the desire of the leading players to participate in the tournament.
Ulster president Tom Daly declared that the the Council was “most disappointed” that the concept of a multi-sports stadium now appears to be dead in the water.
“The Ulster Council has been fully involved in negotiations from the outset and had been in a state of preparedness. We wanted to be part of a world-class publicly-funded stadium,” said Daly.
Daly added: “Our position remains that the needs of all three major team sports in terms of the provision of stadia must be addressed before the needs of any one sporting organisation takes preference.”
Ryan Feeney, Communications Development and Public Affairs Manager, outlined the Ulster Council’s Strategic Action Plan and Vision 2009-2015.
The Plan embraces the need for more investment in infrastructure at county level and emphasised the necessity for a clubs’ support service that will embody coaching, development and governance.
And it is envisaged that the 125 Celebration programme could prove a blueprint for future years in Ulster in some respect, containing as it does a strong focus on Scor, the Irish language and other cultural elements.
The meeting also heard Danny Murphy accuse UTV of “effectively abandoning action coverage” of Gaelic Games. He also aimed a broadside at the BBC.
“The coverage, or lack of coverage, depending on your perspective, from UTV is alarming and it appears that they are effectively abandoning action coverage of Gaelic Games,” said Murphy.
“They are not part of any of the packages that allow for coverage of the games. News access and interviews are a poor substitute for their coverage just a few years ago.”
BBC Northern Ireland did screen every Ulster Championship match ‘live’, apart from the Tyrone-Down replay.
BBC also screened ‘live’ games in the All-Ireland Championship, including Tyrone’s semi-final and final, against Wexford and Kerry, respectively.
However, Murphy described the GAA’s involvement with BBC chiefs as “very stressful”.
Murphy said: “The position of television is a continuing cause for concern and the past year saw a very stressful involvement with the BBC.
“Except for the Ulster Championship, there was a lack of organisation in how coverage was planned. Too often, it was a last-minute decision.”